The Importance of UX for Websites and Apps

November 08, 2016

If you created your website or mobile App without going through a UX strategy session, or feel it’s time to rethink UX a bit more strategically, then work with a partner who can guide your team through it.

Importance of User Experience (UX) for Websites and Apps. It's more than just a trending topic for all brands

Today, technology is a commodity; meaning there isn’t anything you can develop that someone else can’t very quickly. You’ll have more success, an edge against competitors, and delight your customers if you focus on the customer’s experience with your digital property (i.e. eCommerce site, website, mobile App, CMS system, etc.)

Digitally speaking, user experience (UX) is the user’s journey, ingress, egress, and actions down a path through your website or mobile App. A successful user experience is where a user can effortlessly navigate through your website or mobile App with no roadblocks while extracting from it what they want, and simultaneously fulfilling tasks you intended for them to do. Tasks can include, but not be limited to discovery of products, watching a video, sharing a post, purchasing, and providing their email address.

A good user experience is similar to a beautiful performance by a professional dancer. When she dances it looks effortless; she’s fluid and seamless — she gracefully moves from one side of the stage to the other. Her movements take the audience through a story, and expression of meaning. An unsuccessful user experience is similar to a dancer that is constantly tripping over herself, knocking her knees, and generally moving with jitters and shakes. It would be hard to find meaning and delight in such a performance.

Today, consumers are less forgiving when it comes to bad user experiences

Over the last 7 years technology and access to the internet have given brands of all sizes widespread exposure. There are internet enabled devices of all shapes and sizes, and even in the most rural parts of the world there is access to Internet. Such widespread access has created a consumer market that is less and less patient and more demanding of easier, simpler, and well thought out websites and mobile Apps. Here is a great read quantifying strong customer experiences in Harvard Business Review: The Value of Customer Experience Quantified.

In a study provided by Adaptive Path, Bank of America conducted research into why they were falling behind their competition. They zeroed in on on their online registration process. They identified “yield,” or the number of customers who successfully complete online registration as a percentage of those who start it. This metric would serve as the basis to indicate better user experience design. Work then got started in designing a better online enrollment process that addressed this very issue. At the end of the design engagement they saw a 45% increase in customer registration. The outcome of this project was a huge success due to a drastic change in usability.

Consumers today also have very high expectations of interaction, engagement, and consistency across websites and mobile apps. For example, they expect your site to cater to their behaviors and mindset as they use different size devices (i.e. desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, connected TVs) to access your website.

Take for example the mindset of a consumer browsing a hotel website on desktop — his mindset is one of ‘discovery’ of the room, amenities, and images. In contrast, his mindset when browsing the hotel website on mobile (likely while he’s on-the-go) is more geared towards contacting the hotel or reserving a room. Thus, the UX of the same website must be thought about slightly differently; and this thinking happens before designing wireframes. (Add to this the complexity of time of day. Perhaps users on desktop in the evening are more in the purchase mindset versus discovery, and vice versa with mobile!)

It starts with User Experience Strategy

UX Strategy

Yes, it’s different than UX design!

At the beginning of a project UX Strategy is about the discovery, research, ideation, and understanding of a brand’s business (what do they do, how do they make money), their goals (short and long), and needs of the website or mobile App to start defining three (3) basic things:

A. Primary user personas;
B. Primary use cases that support the primary users;
C. Primary features and functionalities that support the use cases.

The deliverables against these three are at minimum
1. User Profiles
2. Site Map
3. Business Requirements and Scope

Above is an example of primary user profile created for a user of a backend administrative system (CMS) that we are building. The information gathered from discovery and research, combined with thinking led us to start creating a CMS that met the business goals while avoiding the frustrations of this primary user. Specifically the profile told us that this user, though tech savvy, values technology that has a short learning curve — this then lead us down the path of designing the CMS with elements that resembled other ‘systems’ this user uses on an everyday basis such as Gmail, Facebook, and Wordpress.

The project above had 2 primary user profiles. Those profiles combined with a set of features and functionalities allowed us to design a site map that adhered to these primary users by organizing a content structure of certain pages ahead of other pages because of the page’s relative importance to one or both of primary users.

The partial site map below shows two colored dots in 2 sizes — small and large. The colored dots represent each of the primary profiles and the size of the dot represents the importance of the page to each profile. If a content page is tagged with 2 small dots then it was considered to be low priority and can perhaps be a secondary page. If a content page is tagged with 2 large dots then it’s considered an important page and the site should be organized with that in mind. The site map also aligns with business objectives of the brand.

Once user profile, a site map, and a solidified plan on features and functionalities are drafted (these can be a whopper!) then the UX designer can get get to work manifesting the UX strategy work into wireframes.

If you created your website or mobile App without going through a UX strategy session, or feel it’s time to rethink UX a bit more strategically, then work with a partner who can guide your team through it. The first step may be to conduct an UX assessment to test the UX of the website or mobile App against best practices and business goals while using existing analytics as a factor to see if visitors are extracting from your site what they want while completing tasks you intend them to do. It’s common that after conducting an UX Assessment there are quick wins that can be had by perhaps reorganizing content on certain pages, changing and editing the navigation menu, updating colors/sizes for call to action buttons, disabling auto-scroll on carousels (especially on your Home page!), etc.

Email us to talk more about UX Strategy and UX Design, and how it relates to your brand.

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